Small companies often struggle to provide affordable and comprehensive employee benefits plans. However, this no longer needs to be an unachievable goal. Furthermore, according to the Health Promotion Board in 2017, overall spending on workplace health programmes, including fitness activities and nutrition talks, has increased by about 15 per cent each year since 2014, from S$4 million. This shows the higher valuation of employee health benefits by SMEs and the increased ability to offer them. Take a look and find out how these SMEs were able to devise a successful employee health benefits strategy.
Asia Polyurethane is a company that tailors Polyurethane (a polymer) systems to the needs of their customers. Asia Polyurethane designed a “Lifelong Learning and Workplace Health Programme” as part of their objective for employees to lead healthy lifestyles. Under this workplace health programme, employees end work three hours earlier on Friday at least once a month and get to participate in a wide range of activities such as jogging, playing bowling or even watching a healthy cooking demonstration.
But this did not come without resistance. Asia Polyurethane’s chief executive Erman tan shared with The Straits Times that the scheme was initially resisted by his employees as they were concerned they would have to set aside extra time to complete their work.
However, they soon changed their mind upon being exposed to the programme. Beside the obvious health benefits, employees found that the programme helped them to relieve stress and become more productive at work. It grew into something to look forward to. In the article, regional sales assistant manager, Edson Kek, commented that his enthusiasm for the programme grew in through the year after losing 10 kg. He and his colleagues actually found it rather enjoyable and stress-relieving.
Warees Investments is an asset management company responsible for the development of prime commercial and residential properties as well as the conservation of culture and heritage. Tapping onto the Health Promotion Board’s pilot SME Workplace Health Package, Warees Investments organised a health-focused activity to Botanic Gardens for their employees earlier last year. Their employees went on a 4 km walk around the area and participated in activities at various stations along the walk. These stations included learning about simple exercise routines and quick lessons on preparing healthier food.
Ms Zarena Mator, the strategic assistant to management at Warees, told Channel News Asia that “the activity helped us become more aware of how to do simple and light activities at home and it also created an interest in staff to prepare healthy meals." This goes to show that even simple activities to encourage healthy living can make a difference. In the long run, if employees are more aware of how simple it is to eat healthily or knowing the sorts of exercises they can do at home without any equipment, they will be more inclined to try it themselves and start leading a healthier lifestyle.
Huone is the first of its kind events hotel. It rents out space for business meetings and events, with customised thematic spaces. Huone is a small company with a stronghold of 14 talented individuals passionate about their work. Huone was relatively new to employee benefits but nevertheless was committed to finding a cost-effective plan.
Because of their small size, Huone struggled to find an insurance provider who was willing to offer them an affordable benefits plan with a comprehensive coverage. In their search for a provider, Huone approached Mednefits who was able to customise an affordable and comprehensive benefits package just for Huone. With the help of Mednefits, Huone was able to maximise employee benefits with their planned annual budget.
In addition to the traditional but yet key requirements of hospitalisation and outpatient benefits, employees were also covered under health screening, eye screening and a dental package. Through this partnership, Huone’s employees were able to experience a more diverse and holistic health benefits plan. This was in line with CEO of Huone Singapore, Joewin Tan’s aspirations, “It is not enough to just put the right programmes in place – you also have to optimise the experience.”
While these SMEs have been successful in implementing an employee benefits strategy, we understand that it is not a one-size-fits-all approach. A successful employee health benefits strategy may look very different when you look at different companies. That is because each company has their own unique culture and a different set of employees.
What works for one company, may not work for another. It depends on how you shape the culture of your company and the steps you take to encourage and attract your employees to get active or eat more healthily.
Information on the workplace health programmes organised by the Asia Polyurethane and Warees Investments were derived from the Straits Times article “More SMEs investing in office health programmes” published in 2013 and the Channel News Asia article “More support for SMEs to conduct health programmes” published in 2017 respectively.